Thirty-one death sentences handed down in Egypt


Egyptian courts sentenced 31 people to death in two separate cases, one involving the killing of a policeman and a security guard in 2015 and the other related to a 2016 prison escape, state news agency MENA and witnesses said.

In the Nile Delta town El-Zagazig, the local criminal court sentenced 18 people to death for the killings of the policeman and guard, MENA said.

The agency said two men arrived at a local hospital with gunshot wounds and investigators established the 18 were behind their deaths.

It said the 18 men, also convicted of incitement to violence against state institutions, were members of the Muslim Brotherhood banned in Egypt after the 2013 overthrow of former Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

In Ismailiyah, the local criminal court sentenced 13 people, witnesses and local newspapers said, including some who court officials described as takfiris, a reference to Islamist militants. They escaped from prison in October 2016.

Six of the convicted were in custody while seven were tried in absentia, state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported.

Egypt cracked down on suspected Islamists since Mursi was toppled by former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Sisi, who took over as president a year later, has since won a second term.

Hundreds of Islamists, including Muslim Brotherhood supporters and members, received death sentences since 2013 and Egypt has carried out dozens of executions, according to security sources and rights groups.

Thursday’s rulings are subject to appeals before the sentences are carried out.